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Martin Greenough: City and state settle lawsuit while new path shapes up

Posted by on February 28th, 2017 at 1:05 pm

New path around Lombard-42nd bike lane gap-7.jpg

The new bike path being built where Martin Greenough was hit and killed while riding in December 2015 is being built as I type this. While the path nears completion, so too does the lawsuit filed by his family last April.

Greenough’s family named the City, State and the man who was driving drunk while intoxicated with marijuana prior to hitting him in their $3.6 million lawsuit. Last week The Oregonian reported that they’ve accepted a settlement with the City and State for $23,000. Here’s more from The O:

That’s far less than the $3.6 million that relatives of Martin Lee Greenough sought, but they’re pleased because they believe the lawsuit prompted the state to finally fast-track construction of a bike lane along the stretch after years of delay, their lawyer said.

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I rolled over to the location yesterday to see how the new path was shaping up. A tractor was working on the site and seemed to be leveling out the first layer of gravel and dirt that will be the foundation for the coming pavement. Headed eastbound, the path will transition from the on-street bike lane just east of where eastbound NE 42nd Avenue traffic merges onto Lombard. The path then becomes separated from motorized traffic via a guard-rail and continues under the overpass. It then transitions back onto the bike lane about 100 feet east of the overpass.

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The new path begins just beyond these signs. (ODOT crews need a lesson in safe work zone management.)

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West of the 42nd Ave overpass.

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East of the 42nd Ave overpass.

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Keep in mind that there’s still a gap in the westbound direction. ODOT says there’s simply not enough room to add one and they’re not willing to narrow or change the existing two-lane roadway. We’ll see if their tune changes after another person is hit and injured or killed in that gap.

The Oregonian reports that the City of Portland is paying $3,000 of the settlement while the State is paying $20,000. The State owns and manages this section of Lombard, but the family felt the City of Portland also shared responsibility because their official bike map recommends this route. As we first reported, Greenough was new to town and was using the map to find his way home when the collision occurred.

If this obvious, well-documented, and dangerous bike lane gap was closed with a path like this prior to December 2015, Greenough would very likely still be alive today.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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David Feldman
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David Feldman

Good–this will give ODOT/PDOT/any agency that wants to copy this a nice template for fixing the same choke point in other locations.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

Nice to see safety upgrades. Too bad it took a death to achieve it. Any word on the bike fatality this morning?

Adam
Subscriber

ODOT says…they’re not willing to narrow or change the existing two-lane roadway

ODOT would rather people die using their facilities than inconvenience drivers.

maccoinnich
Guest

“Keep in mind that there’s still a gap in the westbound direction. ODOT says there’s simply not enough room to add one and they’re not willing to narrow or change the existing two-lane roadway.”

Does the railroad ROW really extend beyond the structural support for the bridge above, adjacent to the tracks?

https://goo.gl/maps/hjWdhcmzhGo

eawrist
Guest
eawrist

Fantastic work ODOT. Need to take the opportunity to say this when I can. Now, if there were a functional length of this highway that had a 2-way physically separated MUP, I would actually use it.

One
Guest

I don’t want to hijack this thread, but I need to ask: does anyone know how we can get A & G Auto to stop parking their cars in the bike lane every single day? A & G Auto shop is at 5317 NE Lombard. Every day I have to ride around the cars that fill up the bike lane in front of their shop. I have called the owners a dozen times and have never gotten a hold of them. I’ve called ODOT at many different numbers, and have not gotten a hold of anyone who can help. PBOT says that they can’t HELP because it’s not a Portland Road. Portland police say that they cannot ticket or tow because it is an ODOT Road

rick
Guest
rick

The new path should be named in remembrance of Martin.

B. Carfree
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B. Carfree

I hope they have designed it in a way that deals with what look like some obvious drainage issues. For some reason, I doubt it.

Christopher of Portland
Guest
Christopher of Portland

I used to drive from north Portland to east of I-205 for work. I often took Lombard/Portland Highway because the alternatives were worse. I think the entire section between 11th and 60th could become one lane each way without real issues. The most “backed up” I ever saw it was when there was a crash in the middle of the road, and that was like a normal day on any other road. The extra lane only makes it easier to drive 20 over the limit and weave through traffic just to get stopped at the light at MLK with everyone else. Imagine proper bike paths of some kind and one of those center turn lane thingies instead.

9watts
Subscriber

I’ve mentioned this before, but every time Martin Greenough’s death is mentioned here I have to think of Steve Fritz’s death, and the vast difference in how quickly and effectively the problem in the latter’s case was solved. The sums that were awarded/ settlement amounts accepted are also crazy far apart. Of course in both cases it took a death, but all these divergences speaks volumes (Hello, Kitty’s statistics notwithstanding).

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I’m glad to see that this is getting fixed, and I’m certainly glad Mr. Greenough’s family is satisfied with that outcome. This will be a big improvement.

That said, a $23,000 settlement is a much smaller cost to ODOT than the fix itself. This still doesn’t financially incentivize ODOT to be more proactive* in fixing trouble spots before someone gets killed. It’s only marginally more expensive for them to wait.

* I use the word proactive in this context, but even fixing these problems before someone gets killed is still reactive. Almost every ODOT and PBOT facility failure that kills a cyclist is a spot where the community had already been demanding action.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

I say that ODOT is being disingenuous in claiming there’s no room for a bike path on the north side of Lombard. While Portlandmaps doesn’t show the demarcation between UPRR ROW and ODOT ROW, the 100′ quoted above leaves room for the path on the north side. And, for a quarter mile east and west of the overpass, there is a path behind the guard rail, held up in places by a retaining wall. In fact, it looks like one could walk along this path right under the overpass, walking behind the bridge “bent”. As Dave mentioned, with the addition of more retaining wall, a bike path could indeed be built on the north side of Lombard, without interfering with RR operations, and probably not even in the RR ROW. The only explanation I could see, that UPRR plans to add another track in the space between the two bridge bents, is belied by the lack of RR ROW width further to the east, where the RR diverges from Lombard.
It would just cost more.

I’d like to hear ODOT (and/or UPRR) explain why this couldn’t be done.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

Looking east from the overpass (I hope this image works). Note the graveled area behind the guardrail. If this configuration were replicated clear under the overpass, and paved with asphalt, ODOT could make westbound travel on Lombard safe as well.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=ccce2bc57e&view=fimg&th=15a8ac5846e91899&attid=0.1&disp=emb&realattid=ii_15a8ac5846e91899&attbid=ANGjdJ9JAh8lBA9D807sT_S0hsVhpBqj2BUXeu4A5tgb1oehVGGMQRDlAsi2MN2_L9koCBMnnWB1xa2Xa4_06S3Rm8pbgla3h65oGvcP4K_6K9a_7JJRxCdfy9epco4&sz=s0-l75&ats=1488386887927&rm=15a8ac5846e91899&zw

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If they have the right of way.

Greg Spencer
Guest

This project reminds me of how this jerk landlord addressed security problem in a home a friend was renting. A burglar had broken in through a window — one of several on the house’s groundfloor — and the landlord “fixed” it by installing security bars over that individual broken window. A few months later, a burglar broke in through another ground-floor window. The remedy was — again — to bar up the window that had just been broken. The same thing happened a THIRD time and I believe that’s when my friend finally moved house.

This project is the same thing — a bandaid for a systemic problem. There are an awful lot of designated bike routes around Portland where the adjacent motor traffic is going way too fast for safe cycling. Looking at the back story of the the death of Martin Greenough, I completely empathize with him. He was a newcomer here in Portland and when he chose to bike on Lombard, he probably did so because Lombard is designated as a bikeway there. He was tragically mis-led.

PomPilot
Guest
PomPilot

I may have missed it, but you stated that only the state and city settled. Does that mean that the suit against the driver is still active? I seem to recall from my business law classes (some 35 years ago), that if a co-defendant settled, the one(s) who were not willing to settle were still on the hook for the balance of the amount being sued for, or whatever the jury awarded. In this case, unless he has settled also, or the suit is dropped, the driver is still at risk of loosing up to $3million (less $23,000.00).

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Come on, everyone knows that the price is one death per direction. Asking for a two for one deal with ODOT is not allowed under the current rules of engagement.

By the way, love that highways are getting millions and it takes people to die to get a few thousand for a 100 foot pathway sure to fall apart in the first rain storm.

rick
Guest
rick

Adam H.
That hotline is a joke. I’ve left four separate messages about a streetlight being out and three months later it’s still broken. I’ve reported that damn boat parked on Clinton Street before the diverter fixed the problem twice and it never moved or was ticketed. (It’s still there, parked illegally, I just don’t care about it anymore). I’ve reported abandoned autos that never get towed. I’ve reported downed trees blocking the sidewalk and nothing has happened.
PBOT is drowning in a maintenance backlog and they know it.
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Adam, does that boat on SE Clinton have outdated tags on the boat or the trailer?